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mancer, a dealer in magic,—which amounts nearly to the same charge; for magic was always supposed to flow from some communion with the invisible world, and to be wrought by the aid of evil spirits. The modern sceptic, certainly, will not impute the power of Christ to either of these sources, for he denies all spiritual agency, good or bad. All he has left to vindicate his incredulity is to deny the fact: no such works, he pretends, were ever performed. In plain words, the apostles, according to his creed, were either fools or liars: they were hoodwinked by enthusiasm, and imagined they saw what they did not see; or invented the tale, and published a falsehood to the world, to gain credit and establish their system. All ages have, indeed, witnessed, and we ourselves have seen and heard, many very extraordinary instances of folly and obstinacy in wild fanatics and over-heated enthusiasts; but no record or experience can produce such concurrent testimony as the Gospel affords, so clear, so direct, so unimpeachable, so free from all that characterizes enthusiasm or artifice. When did eleven
persons, of sober mind, agree in declaring that they saw (not alone, but in the presence of multitudes) the diseased cleansed, by a simple command,—the lame walk,—the deaf hear,—the blind see,—the dead raised? thousands fed in the wilderness, where no supply of food could have been obtained,—the sea suddenly calmed, —their living Master walking on the surface, and one of their number going forth upon the waves to meet him. And this their positive assertion, and united testimony, referred to what had been actually done,—not to what they believed; not to a dream or vision, or an internal feeling, or strong persuasion ; but to a plain, open, palpable fact. “ But, perhaps, they were cheats and impostors, and banded together to impose upon mankind.” If so, they were the first impostors, and will be the last, who ever concurred to invent and propagate a lie, which was designed and calculated to promote piety and virtue, to establish soberness, righteousness, and godliness among men, and discourage every vicious propensity and worldly pursuit ;--a lie, which, instead of advancing their interests, or administering to their pleasures, must have inevitably exposed them, as it actually did, to poverty, contempt, persecution, and every suffering most grievous and abhorrent to human nature. Could you possibly suspect them to be either foolish or false,--either deluded by their own imagination, or practising on the credulity of others,—it was a species of delusion of which the world has no other example, -a kind of fraud, for which it is impossible to assign any motive, and which contradicts all the views and known principles of human conduct.
But further,—The historians of our Saviour's ministry, and the witnesses of his resurrection, if they could have weakly fancied, what they profess to have seen, or fraudulently combined, to introduce a new religion, had not the ability to do what they actually have done. Such a volume as the New Testament could not have been planned and published by such men ; simple, meanly-born, low-bred, unacquainted with books, unacquainted with men; whose whole lives had been occupied in making provision for each passing day; mending their nets, steering their bark, hauling for a draft, vending what they caught. Could these obscure, feeble, contemptible instruments, accounted the very “filth of the world, and the offscouring of all things,” form and execute the bold design of subverting the long revered religion of their forefathers, and the long established idolatry of polished Greece and allsubduing Rome? Could a rude and despicable
knot of fishermen contrive, and actually accomplish, what philosophers, and legislators, and princes, could never effect or devise ? “ But they were taught and tutored by their master.” Their master ?—“ Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary,”-an humble mechanic, subject till his thirtieth year, when he entered on his ministry, to his uneducated parents; working in the shed of a country artificer; his implements of science the line and rule, the chisel and the saw; his studies confined to one single book, the law of a gross unlettered people, inhabiting the most despicable province under the Roman yoke; far from the seats of erudition, elegance, and arts, and shut out from every means, every human means, of acquiring knowledge ? Was this the the politic contriver and sage instructor, whose lessons were to qualify his dull, narrow-minded, and needy followers, to stand before kings and rulers; to “give them a mouth and wisdom which all their adversaries should not be able to gainsay or resist;" to infuse into their meagre understandings such exalted ideas of the attributes of the Creator, and lead them to such spiritual perfection, such consummate virtue, as were unknown in the far-famed schools of Athens,
and unattained by the best and wisest of the human race ? Could all this be accomplished by such an agent? Yet all this was done, and more; but not by “the carpenter, the son of Joseph ;" but by the SAVIOUR, the Son of God:—not by the mortal Nazarite of “ no form or comeliness;" but by “the Image of the invisible God," in whom “dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” By His inspiration, a wandering Jew, a tent-maker of Tarsus,“ reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come,” in a strain of unpremeditated eloquence, to which Pythagoras and Socrates would have listened with admiration and reverence: by His inspiration the clownish fishers of barbaric Galilee composed a volume, to which the sages of Asia and the literati of Europe were wholly incompetent; a volume exhibiting more just and sublime views of the state of departed souls, more tremendous sanctions, and more commanding motives to virtue, than all the wisdom of the world, from the rising to the setting sun, had ever produced or conceived. What reply, then, is to be made to this question of his incredulous townsmen ?
“Whence hath this man these things; and what wisdom is this which is given unto him,